When thinking of life in the desert, this instantly recognizable animal more than likely comes to mind.
The dromedary, or Arabian, camel can be 7 ft (2 m) tall at the hump and weigh up to 1,500 lbs (680 kg). Dromedaries, the one humped camels, are found in North Africa and the Middle East, and have even been introduced to Australia. Bactrian camels are native to China and Mongolia, and have two humps.
Dromedary camels are said to have been domesticated over 3,000 years ago. To this day, people depend on them for transportation across the harsh and arid desert, and can easily carry an extra 200 lbs (90 kg).
All dromedaries are considered to be domesticated with no true wild animals remaining. Bactrian camels are the only wild camels remaining, but are critically endangered with maybe 950 wild individuals remaining.
The camel’s hump is their most iconic feature, it stores fat that becomes energy for the animal. They can go for a week without water, and several months without food. When it’s time to refuel, they can drink 30 gallons (113 liters) in just 10 minutes. They use their tough, flexible lips to feed on vegetation.
Camels have other features to help them survive in the desert environment, too. They can close their nostrils to keep the sand out. They also have two rows of long eyelashes as well a clear, third eyelid, called a nictitating membrane, to protect their eyes.